Support Land Health and New Agrarians

Donate today to help us leverage $20,000 from the Paul H. Johanson Fund

2020 San Juan Ranch apprentice Noelle McDonough works the gate as mentor George Whitten gives direction.

Albuquerque Wildlife Federation volunteers and others learn about erosion control in arid rangelands and build structures to slow water during storms. 

New lambs at Richards Grassfed in Oregon House, California.

Ann Adams of Holistic Management International teaches 2019 apprentices some basics of ecosystem management.

Double the value of your donation

The Paul H. Johanson Fund has made a challenge grant to support Quivira’s 2020 land health workshops and New Agrarian apprenticeships, matching donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000. Make a pledge by July 15 to help us meet the challenge!

With your support, we’ll raise $40,000 to mentor beginning ranchers and farmers, and offer ranchers and other land managers hands-on, on-the-ground workshops on regenerative techniques to restore and increase range and grasslands health.

Donate or pledge your support today!

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More about what your donation supports

Land Health

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have adjusted the schedule and format for this year’s workshops. Our season launched in early March with a day-long session on holistic orchard management in Shoemaker, New Mexico. Throughout the summer and fall we will lead or collaborate on a variety of educational webinars and virtual workshops, with topics ranging from soil health to drought planning. And over the winter, we’ll continue to develop land health topics and provide meaningful resources to ranchers, farmers, and conservationists.

With your support, the Quivira community will take action to improve the quality of western rangelands, including regenerated soil ecosystems and increased carbon sequestration, improved surface water conservation, restored plant and wildlife diversity, and the development of appropriate grazing strategies to protect grasslands and their biodiversity, while meeting the needs of ranchers and farmers. 

Land Health Workshops: Quivira works closely with ranchers in New Mexico and Colorado to plan and implement restoration and monitoring projects. Western rangelands—which comprise grasslands, forests, riparian areas, and a diversity of critical wildlife habitat—are an essential component of the rural West’s ecological, economic, and social fabric. Ranchers play an essential role in the stewardship of these and many other invaluable resources, and in rural communities they are the leaders of collaborative conservation initiatives. When we work on private lands and tribal lands, we endeavor to gather and disseminate critical lessons learned in order to help others achieve and maintain land and watershed health. In this way, each of our land health workshops disseminates regenerative practices within a local neighborhood and sends new understanding into the broader region.

Quivira is also working collaboratively with our New Mexico Coalition to Enhance Working Lands (NMCEWL) partners to identify and interpret resources for relief and resilience for farmers and ranchers experiencing impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we are digging into direct payments and other USDA programs to understand who qualifies for them, how a rancher or farmer can apply, and where to get help with applications. These and other materials are distributed on our COVID-19 resources page and social media channels, as well as through the NMCEWL Listserv and NMCEWL social media channels. They will are open source and designed to be widely shared and adapted by other organizations providing support or assistance to agricultural producers. 

New Agrarian Apprenticeships

Quivira’s New Agrarian apprenticeships match beginning ranchers and farmers with mentors who are committed to regenerative agricultural practices and holistic business management. Investment and partnership in this work supports the agrarians who steward working lands and rural communities, and help build leadership for a regenerative future.

 Adapting to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and fostering the next generation of ranchers and farmers will require much from us and from our partners in this work. Your support will help us build on past successes to further develop the New Agrarian apprenticeship program at this critical moment in history.

The past few years have been an exciting period of growth for the New Agrarian program, which has increased from three to seven to nine to fifteen and now to twenty mentor operations in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, and California. Despite uncertainties related to the  pandemic, 21 apprentices are enrolled in the 2020 season. Rather than gather in person for our orientation, they met remotely with NAP staff via video conference for a day of getting to know one another, sharing aspirations, and introductory instruction. All 21 are now safely at their mentor operations, where they are receiving hands-on, on-the-ground training, working side-by-side with seasoned agrarians who are expert in regenerative ranching and farming.

In addition to gaining hands-on experience at their mentor operations, apprentices will attend monthly supplemental education video

In addition to gaining hands-on experience, apprentices will participate in monthly webinars, led by NAP staff and featuring instruction by experts on whole ranch and farm planning, financial management, marketing, business planning, land access strategies, and biological monitoring. Mentors will work with their apprentices to make this coursework relevant to daily, hands-on tasks and introduce them to the financial underpinnings of decision making, from basic functions, such as calculating how much to budget for fuel, to more complicated planning processes, such as estimating the long-term business effects of adding new enterprises.

This year, we also continue to enlist mentors for 2021 and beyond, and have added staff as we expand the program in current states and further into the Southwest and the Northern Great Plains. Our online mentor training program includes producers who are considering bringing on apprentices or interns independently of NAP. Along with Career Connection, our semi-annual agricultural job fairs, this program supports mentors who do not fit neatly into the structured apprenticeship model but who are nevertheless able to offer valuable training opportunities. To help keep our communities safe and to enable even more mentors and young agrarians to take part, we plan to offer 2020 Career Connection events online, as well.

NAP’s annual activities are important, but we know that our greatest success extends beyond each apprenticeship season to the legacy we create in the field. NAP graduates have gone on to become successful agrarians, mentors, and leaders in the regenerative agriculture movement. One example is Amber Reed, who apprenticed with Julie Sullivan and George Whitten at San Juan Ranch in 2009 and with Becca and Dan James at James Ranch Artisan Cheese in 2010. Amber now manages the Farm at Woods Hill in New Hampshire, supplying pasture-raised beef, pork, lamb, and chicken to the restaurant, Woods Hill Table. Here is what she has to say about her NAP education:

My time as a Quivira apprentice was intense both professionally and personally. There’s nothing like learning to move a stubborn animal and to fight your own impatience at the same time. It’s also pretty great when you realize that you have gotten better at something against all odds. These days, I manage an absolute maze of land, animals, crew members, guests, owners, and chefs. I’d never be able to do this without learning to be a hell of a planner from George and Julie or being totally organized and keeping track of a million serious details like Dan and Becca.